Transforming urban spaces into playful, fun environments for children
Who: Pop up Parks
Start date: July 2013
End date: May 2016
Grant value: over £100,000
Supported through: Health Innovation Fund
Living in an urban, densely-populated area can make it difficult for children to have the space to play, get outdoors and be active.
Children today are less free to roam, especially in urban areas. But outdoor play and activity is vital to their health and well-being.
Play is an important way for children to connect with the world, learn and develop their imagination.
Outdoor play is linked to physical activity, which is important to reducing childhood obesity.
Pop up Parks are vibrant, fun, pop-up spaces in urban environments.
Part of the Design Council’s Knee High Design Challenge, Pop up Parks is one of the initiatives we supported to help reduce health inequalities in under-fives.
Spaces in Lambeth and Southwark, such as a high street or the roads near a primary school, are transformed into colourful spaces for play. The parks offer a range of activities for under-fives, from listening posts and den building, to running tracks and ramps.
Pop up Parks encourage energetic activity and safe play outside the home. They encourage children and families to spend more time being playful. Parents play with their children. Children play with other children.
The parks are temporary, but local groups are also supported to create more permanent play spaces.
In areas of deprivation, only 21% of children play outdoors every day - when their parents were children, the figure was 71%
The presence of a Pop up Park encourages families to think about how play in an urban setting can be possible and safe.
Pop up Parks are deliberately put in places where families live and spend their time. They are near or within housing estates, schools or on the streets.
As well the pop ups, the programme team is also looking to transform public space more permanently. It is inspiring a new way of thinking about urban space and outdoor play, and is actively sharing its model with others facing similar challenges.
The one-year pilot of Pop up Parks in Lambeth and Southwark showed that:
- 1 in 7 children tried a new activity
- 1 in 5 children increased their outdoor playtime
- There was an average increase in energetic physical activity of 33 minutes a week, and light activity of 53 minutes a week